Friday, March 24, 2006

Trying to scare each other

We had our first rehearsal on Monday for the new project we're developing (code name: fear!) for the fall. This is the small, portable show to involve me and Kristine and a musician (directed of course by Jyana & composed by Rika) hopefully something that we can run for a while and do economically and without much lead-in or fuss. We're devising this show, unlike the work we've done in the past, which has always involved adapting a pre-existing script or story. We're starting with a big concept--fear!--and then honing in from there. We've begun by collecting basic research on what interests us in the subject. The plan is to work for a few weeks now generating ideas/material, and then either bring in a writer or start developing text and narrative ourselves in a more intensive process this summer.

On Monday, we played around with some of the physical symptoms of fear, using a list of them we'd found as a kind of butoh-fu, Kristine and I embodying the images we heard as Jyana read the list. Addressing scale and dosage, we tried being dizzy and being dizziness on a scale from no dizziness at all to as much dizziness as possible. We played around a little with using an object as the fear-inducer, if you will--there was a styrofoam cylinder that we found in the space, which we used to chase each other around. It became the embodiment of scary things. It became clear, though, how much of fear depends on its being unknown. How much is in the anticipation of the bad thing, and how in the event, the bad thing can almost be a relief in that it ends the fear.

The challenge that awaits us (well, one among many) as we develop the piece is to make it personal. To explore our own fears and figure out how to create something dramatic out of them, something that speaks to who we are as people and who we are as a company.

This is going to be an interesting project!

I'd recommend seeing a 1964 film by Kaneto Shindo "ONIBABA".

After enlisting as a volunteer in a war in 14th century Japan, his wife and mother remain living in a swamp. They eke out their living by ambushing worn-out warriors, killing them and selling their belongings to a greedy merchant. The woman comes to mistrust her daughter-in-law who has coupled up with a deserter, and begins to wear a facial mask she has taken from a slain samurai. Soon the mask will not come off again. In this disguise she is at first taken for a demon by her daughter.
Whoa--that sounds pretty freaky. I'll definitely check it out.
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